Anyone who purchased their council home using the Right to Buy scheme in Brighton and Hove, may have to sell them back to the council if they are put up for sale.
The move is the latest effort by local councils to reverse the housing crisis. Councils have the power to enforce this under legislation that came into force in 2005 however they have not taken up the right to do so until now. The main reason was not having the funds to so.
The buy-back scheme will be trialled for one year, depending if councillors give it their backing, with a review at the end of the period. A decision is expected this week.
There are four properties the council could buy back, costing a maximum of £250,000 each. The owners would benefit from a quick sale with no chain after the properties have had an independent valuation.
Councillor Anne Meadows, chair of the Housing and New Homes Committee, said: “We are already building new council homes in the city, and this proposal is another way in which we could provide more homes to rent.
“Anything that brings us more social housing is fantastic for the city. Even if only a small number of properties is involved, it all adds up, and for four families on our housing register it could mean a new home.”
The purpose of buying the properties is to provide temporary accommodation or a permanent home to families. The fund to buy back the properties will come from the council’s Housing Revenue Account.
The scheme, called the Home Purchase Policy, provides a framework for the council to buy back ex council properties that were sold within the last ten years, if they are put up for sale.
Under the rules of Right to Buy, anyone who has used the scheme to buy their council home must give the council first refusal to buy it back should they wish to sell in the first ten years. This also applies to resales, providing it is within ten years of the original sale.
In 2016-2017 fiscal year, there were 17 such notifications of first refusal with 15 being under the £250,000 threshold.